Why is a strategic partnership between L&D leaders and Managers crucial? Traditionally, learning has been the responsibility of a select few. They were the only driver of what should have been a company-wide program, whether they were an HR or L&D executive.

Now is a different time. Organizations recognize the transforming power of a learning culture and recognize that a successful culture emerges and thrives when leaders and managers collaborate to influence learning behavior, beliefs, and goals.

Why Should There be a Strategic Partnership Between L&D and Management?
strategic partnership

The training organization is a critical business component requiring strategic leadership from forward-thinking executives. CLOs and training managers must lead this transition.

CLOs have three critical duties, according to Dr. Mika Nash, academic dean of continuing professional studies at Champlain College:

(1) Be a strategic partner

(2) Be an employee advocate

(3) Be the change champion

Champlain College has launched a new master’s degree in human relations and organizational development aimed at CLOs and other HR executives. Such new programs reflect firms’ growing emphasis on the importance of the people who, in Nash’s words, “generate the company’s worth.”

“Strategy” is an Important Term for Learning Leaders

The most crucial capability of training managers is strategic alignment, as evidenced by experience. In reality, as a “strategic partner” to other CEOs, the CLO is vital. Because a firm’s people are its genuine differentiator, having a business partner that understands how those individuals can assist the company in achieving its strategic goals is critical. Both the employee and customer experience are critical, and the CLO is the one who can help the C-suite comprehend both.

Partnership With the C-Suite

Without executive buy-in, your corporate online learning programs and initiatives will not receive the financing and support they require, and they will have a much lower chance of succeeding. Make strategic alliances with members of the C-suite from all levels of your company, not simply the CEO. As a learning and development professional, you should collaborate closely with HR to develop a consistent, high-quality, and dependable pipeline of participants for your various learning corporate programs and courses, which may include onboarding courses, leadership courses, soft skills training courses, and so on.

Partnership With IT and Technology

As a learning and development expert, you’ll need to form strong relationships with your company’s IT and technology departments. You’ll need their help and experience as you adopt and upgrade your LMS software and other online systems, deploy your mobile learning initiatives and apps, collect and analyze employee and learner data, generate new e-learning content, and so on. Your instructional content, technology, systems, and apps will all be safe, secure, and never compromised due to these relationships.

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Still, progress is gradual; according to 76 percent of L&D experts, learning is not a management priority. How should your company begin to form a strategic partnership between managers and learning and development leaders?

Here are six methods for turning your company’s managers into learning advocates.

6 Techniques to Forge a Strategic Partnership Between L&D Leaders and Managers
Answering the “How Does it Benefit Me?” Question

Learning about different cultures has a significant impact. According to an IBM survey, 84 percent of employees in the best-performing organizations receive the training they require, compared to only 16 percent of employees in the worst-performing enterprises. Are your company’s executives aware of this?

Many managers are just unaware of how learning may improve their team and their objectives. As a result, you must inform them of the benefits they will receive.

For instance, if the organization’s learning aims to enable recruit success through onboarding and then sell this to each manager. For example, if a sales team manager aims to improve sales, effective onboarding training can help new workers get up to speed and sell more quickly.

Also, include statistics to back up your claim. Knowing these advantages enhances the likelihood that managers will prioritize their team, whether it’s success stories from other organizations, deadlines for the benefits, or anticipated data on the return on investment.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

When you create goals as OKRs, they’re more likely to be met and, more importantly, to have a demonstrable influence on your business. As a result, make learning a part of your managers’ objectives for the year.

Every manager in the company should be encouraged to make one of their team’s OKRs learning. This makes it clear that learning is a company priority for everyone, but it also holds managers accountable for their teams’ results.

By establishing this target, your managers will be required to actively integrate learning into their teams and track and measure the progress made.

Managers Can be Transformed into Learning Strategists

It’s easy to see why many managers opt to neglect to learn when 60 percent of organizations claim it has no concrete connection to the company’s strategic objectives. What good are their aims if they don’t align with the learning objectives?

To address this, it’s time for L&D leaders and managers to collaborate. Get managers involved from the start while creating your learning approach. Inquire about their objectives, what prevents them from reaching them, and how learning may assist them.

For example, if a customer service manager discusses their aim of reducing high employee turnover, which affects customer pleasure, brainstorm how learning may help. Perhaps improved product training might boost the team’s confidence in responding to questions. On the other hand, a development program might be able to engage and retain more personnel.

Managers Should be Allowed to Become Trainers

To strengthen the relationship between L&D and managers, we recommend transforming them from passive observers to active participants.

If your organization uses a learning management system (LMS), you can add managers as Admins, Managers, or Instructors to the platform. They can contribute as much as they like in these positions, whether it’s authoring courses, Instructor-Led Training, and assignments, monitoring learning reports, or hopping into a learning forum to answer queries.

Whatever it is, they should take an active role in the learning process, guiding their team.

Having managers participate in the training strategy from the beginning, regardless of the aim, boosts their dedication and impact on the business.

Make it Easy for Any Manager’s Team to Learn

While it’s ideal for managers to be involved at every stage of the learning process, this isn’t always practical. People are busy, and they don’t want to add another thing to their to-do list. Therefore make the process of learning simply for their team.

This entails establishing a learning ecosystem in which your tools, such as your HRIS and LMS, are linked so that every team member may be enrolled and have easy access to learning via Single Sign-On.

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Create Management Training Programs

Finally, keep in mind that managers desire and require training as well. So hand it over to them. Incorporating learning into their work, from upskilling to growth to leadership skills, benefits them and demonstrates firsthand how beneficial it can be for them and their teams.

How Can L&D Partner With Other Stakeholders?

When business stakeholders think that L&D’s aims are their goals and appreciate the importance of L&D in achieving company strategy, a shared vision and productive relationship emerge. This form of collaboration helps L&D practitioners (and service providers) to give the maximum value to their clients and employers.

A company’s corporate learning strategy may be extremely well-thought-out, with specific governance models, robust measurement plans, and clearly described processes. Still, without perceived value and alignment and a partnership between L&D and the business, the strategy is likely to fail.

As a result, work hard to establish learning strategies that connect with business strategies, but keep in mind that the effort doesn’t end after the L&D plan is documented. When it’s time to put the strategy into action, do so in a way that highlights the importance of LMS platforms and how well they fit into the overall corporate strategy.

Here are seven techniques for demonstrating value and alignment, allowing for the formation of a successful relationship. Some of the suggestions on this list may appear basic or more geared toward public relations than learning, but the tone is crucial in both L&D and business.

Know What You Are Doing and Why You Are Doing it

Leaders and practitioners in learning and development can’t align with what they don’t know or understand. Learning about the business’s operations is also an investment in your connection with your stakeholders. Some of your team members may require assistance in understanding a company’s business objectives, but providing such assistance will strengthen the L&D function’s overall business acumen.

Strive to be a Thought Leader

L&D adds value when it has a thorough grasp of the adult learning experience and leverages the appropriate solution types and technologies. L&D Leaders must be able to match solutions to needs and have the capacity to anticipate and manage skills-related difficulties through the implementation of learning solutions. L&D may showcase both value and collaboration when cooperating on strategy and solutions by having a confident point of view that displays this value in the context of current business goals.

Ditch Complicated Learning Lingo

As an L&D Leader, you can enhance the sense of partnership by discussing solutions in the context of company needs. Rather than asking, “What are the learning objectives for this year’s product training?” a stakeholder should be asked, “How should the product sales team position the increased changes accompanying this year’s product release?” Even if your measurement is in terms of learning, frame learning accomplishments in terms of business KPIs.

Replace Service With a Strategic Partnership

When L&D works as an order-taking service, the business takes up the task of identifying learning solutions, and lowering the value proposition. When you work as a partner, you become a trusted advisor who recommends the finest solutions and modalities for the company’s needs. Minor changes in tone and method can sometimes pave the way for the L&D department to be repositioned as a business partner.

Provide the Best Solution for the Situation

When the scope of a solution is commensurate to the breadth of the requirement, the business’ faith in L&D rises. Over- or under-designing a solution may be interpreted by your stakeholders as evidence that your LMS application is out of sync with your business strategy.

For example, immediate learning demands for small audiences or challenges that you may solve with minor modifications in knowledge-sharing processes should not be addressed with costly, time-consuming learning solutions. Even if a sophisticated solution is the best long-term match, you may often develop a simpler solution to satisfy current demands and minimize business slowdowns.

Keep Your Head Down and Recognize What is Working

Celebrate and even encourage non-L&D-generated solutions that accomplish targeted goals to demonstrate true cooperation with the company. These types of solutions may also allow you to acquire information about the types of experiences appropriate for the company’s culture.

Focus on Experiential Learning

You concentrate on experiential learning only when you’ve established the necessary structure and support. Experiential learning can only deliver if it matches the quality and consistency of on-the-job experiences and coaching across the organization. A department that understands the business, and how work gets done and has built a trusting connection is ideally positioned to design powerful experiential learning journeys that include essential support for learners, coaches, mentors, and/or managers.

Final Suggestions

Whatever your next step is, know that incorporating other teams and managers into your strategy is the proper thing to do as an L&D leader. The best solutions work when leaders work together, communicate, and align on learning. Increased engagement, employee development, and, most crucially, long-term corporate success are all dependent on it.

Your managers don’t have to oversee the training with this configuration; they have to encourage their employees to learn.

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